by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 11


At school the following morning Sebastian told Con about their meeting with Rex and Fee, and invited him to the meeting the following Saturday morning. They decided to continue wrestling during the holidays at school because Con's place wasn't suitable. Con had already received eight emails from Guapo and was impatient to get the problem solved so they could be together again.

When she heard that Reginald's mother had kicked him out, Desolé was at first pleased, as that confirmed her dislike of Mrs. Blackthorn, however when she realised Reginald would be in the house permanently she became worried. His presence would create complications the following Monday when Farzdbuk came to take Sebastian away. The proposed camping expedition too was impossible. They wanted to stay away for a week and refused to listen to her argument in favour of going away for just a few days, followed by another few days the following week. She'd have to contact Jack. He'd know what to do. The boys couldn't, or wouldn't, even tell her where they were going. Just a vague mention of up the ranges to the lakes, then they'd see where the spirit moved. It really was too much!

Fee's computer had been busy. A few minutes after Rex returned from taking Reginald and Sebastian home, Desolé had opened the attachment. During the evening she received notifications of posts from several blog/chat sites devoted to discussing the prevention of the signs of ageing. Fee visited the sites, noting that Desolé asked those present if they'd heard of the Phoebe Beauty Foundation, but didn't confess her problem when no one had.

The following day, Desolé sent an email to Jack, asking him to contact her urgently about Sebastian's proposed camping holiday. An email was received from 'F' confirming early Monday morning.

On Thursday, Fee's computer recorded the passwords and followed Desolé to a secure internet site where she uploaded two ten minute video clips of Sebastian and Reginald making love. After guiltily watching them, Rex and Fee enjoyed the best sex they'd had for years.

Friday was spent searching the contents of the site to which Desolé had sent the videos. It was a virtual wholesale 'warehouse' where purveyors of porn could view excerpts and buy copies for resale. The selection was wide; from hard-core heterosexual couplings with extreme violence to vanilla gay and lesbian. No child porn.

The hospital was not to be found on the internet, was not in any list of local or state government health services, nor listed under private nursing homes. Satellite surveillance Maps showed the white roof of a large single storied building that seemed to be attached to a smaller one. A couple of sheds were several metres away in a clearing among trees. No details were visible. She printed four copies of the map.

The name Farzdbuk rang no bells anywhere, so was almost certainly a nom de guerre.

Jack Abacus also failed to register on any of the usual searches. Another fake name. The plot thickened. It was a case of no information being confirmation of shady dealings.

Sebastian had mentioned Guapo's suspicions about the luxury hotel at the northern end of the Esplanade, so Fee spent most of Friday in the park opposite, noting the unusual number of oriental business men arriving and departing as well as several girls who had to be prostitutes and a few handsome young men who stayed for an hour and then departed. She also noted someone being taken away by a private ambulance with no exterior markings. She wrote down the make and registration number and returned home.

Success! The ambulance was registered to Arnold S Semble who had three bank accounts in his name with deposits varying from hundreds of thousands of dollars to mere hundreds as he made large withdrawals or deposits on an irregular basis. Where the money went to, or came from Fee had so far been unable to learn. Mr. Semble had made a dozen trips to China and Singapore in the past year. According to City Council records, he had a permit to renovate the derelict WWII hospital compound and use it as a postoperative recuperation and rehabilitation centre. At the moment, though, the work hadn't been started and it was uninhabited except for an occasional caretaker.

Three of Desolé's emails that evening seemed interesting. One to J: Urgent. Come and convince Sebastian not to go camping. Another to F: Problem. Sebastian's friend is staying here permanently. The third an hour later from F: Both! First thing Monday morning.

Reginald was not impressed by Jack when he arrived on Friday evening; an ageing slime ball in his opinion. Sebastian, having recently become friends with Rex and Con, now realised Jack was rather ordinary and common. It was Desolé's hysteria that persuaded the boys to postpone their camping trip until the following Tuesday to be available for Mr. Farzdbuk on Monday. Oozing relief, Desolé and Jack assured them the meeting would be greatly to their advantage if they played their cards right. They happily agreed to the boys going on day trips on Saturday and Sunday, as long as they returned home each night.

The following Saturday morning, Sebastian and Reginald arrived in time for breakfast at Rex and Fee's. Con arrived an hour later. A lengthy discussion about the possible dangers of Farzdbuk's Monday meeting with the boys, failed to convince them not to attend.

'Come on, Rex, what can he do?'

'Plenty if he brings heavies.'

'But why?'

'Who knows? That's why I'll be outside watching,' Con stated firmly. 'Have your mobile ready and speed dial me if you're worried. No need to say anything, I'll take any call as an SOS.'

'Excellent, Con. It'll be a weight off my mind.'

'Mine too, Rex. It's thanks to Sebastian that I'm now a complete human.' He grinned and ruffled Sebastian's hair.

Fee was congratulated on her research and they agreed the first priority was to check out Farzdbuk's hospital.

'Okay, let's go, Rex said cheerfully taking his car keys and heading for the door.'

'Hold it!' Con said rather more sharply than he intended. 'If I'm going to be part of this enterprise, then once we've decided on a course of action and have left a place of safety, I'm in charge and you'll all do exactly as I say, no exceptions. Any objections?'


'I'm not trying to be rude, but you guys have obviously no idea who or what you're up against.'

More silence.

'I've brought my video camera to record anything interesting.'

'I'll bring mine too.'

'Good, Rex. Now, have we a first aid kit? Drinking water? Mobile phones? Insect repellent? Do we all know each other's numbers? If we split up what's the procedure? Sebastian says the place is surrounded by scrubby forest; that means snakes and stones and lantana and thorn bushes. Rubber thongs, Sebastian and Reginald, are not the sort of footwear for a secret reconnaissance mission. Do any of you really want your legs scratched and bleeding? If you're forced to crawl on your belly, Sebastian, don't you think a shirt would help? And if we're trying to avoid standing out like dogs balls shouldn't we wear clothes that blend in? Your magenta and orange shift is delightful, Fee, ideal if we were lost at sea. Your turquoise Tank top, Reginald is equally outstanding.'

Another embarrassed silence and sheepish grins.

'I've two pairs of khaki overalls in the boot of my car, one each for the youngsters. Your trainers are fine, Reginald, but Sebastian, you'll have to borrow some stout shoes. Got any, Rex?'

'No problem. And I suppose Fee and I had better swap the fashion gear for something as downmarket as your baggy britches and jacket?'

'Exactly. You're grinning, Fee?'

'Mmm… only because I agree totally and feel stupid. What you say makes perfect sense, give us two minutes?'

Five minutes later they were sensibly dressed, splashed with insect repellent, and each carried a bottle of water and a bag of mixed dried fruit and nuts. Rex had found and replenished the first aid kit in the Holden.

'We'll take my wagon,' Rex said decisively. 'Sebastian in front with me as he knows the way, and…'

'What happens if the wagon breaks down, get's bogged, is vandalised or suffers some other calamity? We'll be stuck thirty k's from civilisation with a long walk home, possibly being chased by madmen with silenced handguns.'

Con wasn't joking and a chill settled over the five would-be sleuths.

'It's not a joke, is it?' Rex said quietly.

'Sure isn't! We know they're involved in prostitution, pornography, and the abduction of young men. All things worth killing for if they imagine they might be in danger. I can't stress enough the difficulties, or the need for caution.'

'I feel stupid.'

'Better stupid than dead, Rex. Now, am I in charge? Will you do exactly as I say if there's a problem, no questions or arguments?

There was a grimness to his face and voice that sent a chill down his companions' spines.

'Yes, but I think it would be better if you stayed behind, Fee.'

'No way! Sexist pig! Con! Tell him I'm as good as any man.'

'She's as good as any man, Rex. However, it's an excellent idea to have someone manning the command post and as you're the least fit, it has to be you.'


'If we suddenly need support, we have to know there's someone here who can get it to us. It might be equipment, transport… anything. If we split up and lose each other, you're the person who can tell us where the others are. We'll report in every hour on the hour.'

Rex looked nervously at his partner. 'I'm frightened to lose you.' His eyes were moist.

'You won't. There's tracking and hiding and subterfuge in my blood. I'll be extra careful and my Mazda's ready for you to use for back up if we need it.' She kissed her man sweetly and they hugged.

'We have no idea what emergency might arise. We need you here, Rex.'

Rex grudgingly agreed and the brave little band set out, Sebastian and Con in the Toyota, Reginald and Fee in the Holden.

Sebastian found the place easily enough, a simple farm gate between rough stone pillars on the left of the narrow unsealed road. Con drove past without slowing down and both cars stopped about a kilometre further on at a 'Y' junction.

They all got out and looked around like tourists.

'See anything as we drove past?'

'Nothing but the gate and a track,' Reginald replied. 'No traffic, no joggers, no animals… it's very quiet. Not much life of any description.'

'Old pineapple farming land. Poisonous after twenty years of sprays. Not good for anything except houses,' Con reckoned.

'No good for houses either,' Reginald said dourly. 'Poison residues make people sick if they breathe the dust or eat food produced on it.'

'Thanks, Reginald,' Con grinned. 'You'll have noticed the swamp we passed; watch out for mosquitoes because there's dengue and Ross River virus around here. Insect repellent helps, but keep alert.'

'Thanks, Con. What now?'

'We'll take the left fork and look for somewhere to hide the vehicles, then go for a wander.'

Another five hundred metres and they were able to drive off the track into a small roadwork quarry where the cars would be invisible from passing traffic. After checking the sound was turned off on their mobiles they crossed the track.


'The buildings are hidden from the road in…' He consulted his map and Con's compass before pointing. 'That direction.'

A few metres away from the road they climbed through a rusty five strand barbed wire fence, and after fifteen minutes of silently pushing through lantana, bush lawyer and rough scrub, saw the outline of buildings through the trees.

Fee phoned Rex to tell him their progress.

'Remember to keep out of sight,' Con warned. 'Fee and Sebastian go left, Reginald and I'll go right. This is just a reconnoitre to get the lay of the land. Look for building entrances, tracks away from the buildings, note the number, size and possible function of all buildings and always be aware of your escape route in case you are seen and have to make a run for it. If you think you can make it, get to the car and take off, otherwise, lie low and call Rex and me to tell us what's happening. We'll do the same.'

An uneventful two hours later they met back at the cars and quietly returned the way they'd come.

Rex had lunch ready and afterwards recorded their findings in a folder. When everyone had finished he read it.

'There's no obvious security at the gate, but after the first bend there's a weighted barrier padlocked in place that Sebastian agrees is always there when he goes for a check-up. All buildings are concrete block construction with corrugated iron roofs. The main building is large and looks well maintained. The entrance is rather grand with wide steps and stone balustrades leading up to a portico and wide glass doors.

'Out front, there's a flourishing flower bed and parking for a dozen cars. All windows are barred front and back. There's a door at the rear of the main building, and another at the northern end leading under a covered way to smaller building in the same style. All windows are frosted glass, and barred. There are ventilators on the roof. Three other buildings seem to be a garage, a workshop, and a pump house with a back-up electricity generator.

'There's also a large, industrial sized incinerator with a high chimney, perhaps it also heats water, or was originally used to dispose of dangerous hospital waste. A modern improvement is an impressive array of solar electric panels on the roof. Presumably the batteries and other equipment for it will be in one of the sheds.

'The place appears uninhabited, but there are indications of frequent vehicle traffic on the driveway. The buildings are located in a small clearing and although there are several excellent places we could hide surveillance cameras, the distance to any useful monitoring spot is too great. We'll have to rely on being physically present.'

Rex turned to Sebastian. 'What's it like inside?'

'Neat and clean. The foyer's like a real hospital. To the right are half a dozen private rooms with hospital beds and all the usual equipment. The left corridor is spotlessly clean with tiled floors, all polish and chrome and smelling of disinfectant. The surgery where I get my check-up is neat and clean and there's a cupboard full of stuff like you see in the work area of pharmacies. Bottles and little boxes and all that stuff. Sorry I can't compare it with other surgeries, Doctor Reins is the only doctor I've ever visited.'

'Are there any nurses?'

'Either Mark or Ashok. No one else.'

'Guapo said there were only male nurses,' Con said quietly.

'Have you seen any other rooms that might have a medical purpose?' Fee asked.

'A couple of years ago I poked my head into one of the other rooms on the opposite side of the corridor. It was a real operating theatre, a huge overhead light, gas bottles, trays for instruments… just like the TV programs. Ashok was nervous when he found me. He'd forgotten to lock it and I promised not to mention I'd seen it. That's about it, I'm sorry.'

'Sorry? You're been brilliant. We're no longer flying blind. Time to head off again?'

With nods and nervous mutters of agreement they headed for the cars.

Back at the hospital that afternoon there was a large car parked in front of the main entrance. Fee and Sebastian had just concealed themselves when they heard more vehicles. A car sped up the drive and parked. A fat man in a suit and another in a white coat got out and spoke to a couple of men in white trousers and jackets who came out and waited on the steps. They all went inside. A minute later the same ambulance Fee had seen in the city arrived and disgorged two more men in white coats who removed a gurney from the back and wheeled it and its occupant up the steps and through the main entrance.

The driver returned, someone closed and locked the main doors, and the ambulance drove round to the garage.

'Those two nurses are Mark and Ashok, the other two are Farzdbuk and Doctor Reins. I've never seen the guys from the ambulance,' Sebastian whispered as Fee stopped filming.

After another hour when there was no other activity they slipped back through the scrub and made their way to the cars.

Meanwhile, Reginald and Con were observing the northern end of the building and videoed two men in white overalls walk across the covered way with an empty gurney, enter the building with the frosted glass barred windows and, after a great deal of shouting, return across to the surgery with a body on the gurney that didn't move, but didn't seem dead. The frosted glass building hadn't been empty on their first visit after all; it had held either an ill person or a prisoner. And what had the shouting been about?

'Curiouser and curiouser,' Con whispered. 'That building is a prison! I'll stay watching until dark. Fee, take Sebastian and Reginald back so they can get home before his mother becomes suspicious.'

'Are you sure you'll be all right?'

'Sure. Now get along. I'll ring in every hour to keep Rex up to date.'

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